Seattle’s Pedestrian Master Plan set an ambitious goal: make Seattle the most walkable city in America.
Reaching this goal requires a multi-pronged approach, and the first prong you might think of is obvious: fix our broken sidewalks.
SDOT’s Sidewalk Safety Repair Program (SSRP) was created to help catch up on our very long backlog of sidewalk repair needs. Funding comes from the Bridging the Gap (BTG) levy.
Even with BTG, the need greatly exceeds funding, so we prioritize repairs. The highest priority projects usually are along arterial streets, have lots of pedestrians, and are often associated with city-maintained trees. Street trees can provide shade, traffic calming, separation from vehicular traffic, and other benefits which make Seattle more walkable. At the same time though, tree roots can lift and damage the sidewalk, especially where space is tight.
The SSRP completes scores of sidewalk projects each year. Most of the work happens in the drier summer months, but we’ve already completed a number of projects this year.
26th Ave in Central District
The sidewalks on the 700 and 800 blocks of 26th Ave serve many community members since the sidewalks are fairly close to Garfield High School and Community Center. The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), which works with the Columbia Court Apartments on the 700 block, had this sidewalk on their radar for some time.
This year, when SHA asked SDOT for help, we were able to repair over 1,500 square feet of sidewalk on these two blocks. We were able to utilize funding specifically targeted for low income housing within urban centers and urban villages for the 700 block repairs.
19th Ave E in Madison-Miller
Here’s a classic case of the challenge of having street trees and an effective sidewalk within a narrow space.
For years SDOT’s budget only allowed for asphalt shims to address the uplifts and root damage in front of a low income apartment building on the 200 block of 19th Ave E in the Madison-Miller neighborhood. SDOT crews recently removed the uplifted sidewalk on both sides of the block and replaced it with a smooth asphalt surface.
Asphalt has a different look than concrete and it doesn’t last as long, but in tight spots like this with trees and a sidewalk, asphalt is more cost-effective than concrete for short term repairs.
This summer we’ll be fixing more sidewalks across the city. There’s always more work to do on Seattle’s 2,000+ miles of sidewalk!